Print News

I read the newspaper today. This isn't completely remarkable, but it's not something I do every day. I get the New York Times emails and I scan the headlines. Whoopie.

Now, though, I'm back at my parents' house and they get the print version of the San Francisco Chronicle, so I actually sat down at breakfast and read through most of it. I didn't read every article, but I looked through the whole thing.

You know that accent people on news shows put on? The one that sounds excessively pleasant and strangely modulated? I could hear that going in my head. The news is written so formally, the voice in my head as I'm reading (yes, I hear the words I read) might as well be from a computer robot. You know, those ones online you can play with and make them say funny things in different accents.

In print news, they edit their quotes. To be grammatically correct and everything, to make sure it all is perfect. They do it in magazines, too. And I always find myself re-editing them in my head as I read to try and figure out what the person actually said. It's usually pretty easy to tell, and the original quote usually flows much better than the oddly formal edited one.

I hate that silly formal English. As the author of a column, it's really annoying when they change my nicely flowing slightly casual writing into this stilted, old-fashioned crap. I bet it's one of the reasons that the news has trouble reaching young readers (and viewers). It's a really unappealing tone of language.

Now, I know they're striving for balanced, objective reporting, but does "perfect" grammar really effect that? Yes, having a standardized language could in theory make news seem more objective, but that language can still be manipulated to favor a bias. It simply promotes the illusion of objectivity. I think objectivity is bullshit anyway, but I'll write more about that later.

I just think that if they used words and phrasings that are more casual and commonplace, they might do a better job of reaching their audience.


Myca said...

I think we've reached this weird point in our society where those of us who are more or less 'based out of' the internet have an entirely different culture than those folks who are not.

Different sexual morality, different language conventions, different journalistic standards, different nearly everything.

I think that this always kind of existed, if you look at cities and rural areas, but the ubiquity of the internet, internet porn, blogs, & etc., has turned all of that up to 11.


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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